Books Like The Gilded Age

Books Like The Gilded Age

Whether it is material gain or social value, some people can never have enough. Greed has been the downfall of many, so it stands to reason that both art and literature are filled with examples of avarice. Some people agree with the character of Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street who believes greed is good, while others have seen the ruin it brings to those who are consumed by it. No matter your personal thoughts on greed, there’s no denying that it has inspired plenty of great novels. For example, in The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, the pair satirizes the greed and corruption of those in power. For more tales where greed plays an important factor, check out these books like The Gilded Age.

Needful Things

by Stephen King

Needful Things by Stephen King

In the 1991 horror novel, Needful Things by Stephen King, the fictional town of Castle Rock is turned upside down by the arrival of Leland Gaunt. While he appears to be an elderly gentleman who opens a small curio shop in town, he actually preys on the greed of the inhabitants. Leland seems to always have something in his shop that customers desire, and his prices are suspiciously affordable. However, the pranks his customers pull on each other at the behest of Gaunt quickly escalate, as does their paranoia at protecting their purchases. Stephen King is a master of horror, and Needful Things remains a classic of the genre.

The Pearl

by John Steinbeck

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

The Pearl is a 1947 novella by John Steinbeck about a pearl diver named Kino. Steinbeck was inspired by a Mexican folk tale for the story. It has gone on to become one of his most popular books. Kino’s son Coyotito is stung by a scorpion. Still, the greedy local doctor refuses to treat him since they can’t afford his services. This prompts Kino to go diving in the hope of finding a pearl that he can sell to pay for the doctor. Against all odds, Kino discovers a massive pearl that he calls “The Pearl of the World,” but his discovery awakens the greed of everyone else around him. Although Kino has big plans for the money he will receive from selling the pearl, it ends up costing him more than he ever bargained on.


by Ron Rash

Serena by Ron Rash

Serena by Ron Rash has been described as a chilling gothic tale of greed, corruption, and revenge. The setting is 1929 in a North Carolina timber camp where George Pemberton arrives with his new wife, Serena. George is enamored by his wife, who is more cultured than him and knows the business of logging better than him, thanks to her father. Serena quickly sets out to expand the business, and George discovers that nothing will stand in the way of her greed and ambition. Serena knows precisely how to manipulate the people around her, and George goes along with everything she does despite it all slipping out of his control.

The Water Knife

by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Water Knife is a genre-bending thriller by Paolo Bacigalupi. The story is set in the near future, where water is scarce enough that individual states in America are in conflict with each other over this precious resource. Climate change has caused massive droughts in the American Southwest, and The Colorado River has been reduced to a mere trickle. Angel Velasquez is a “water knife” for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, whose job is to sabotage the water supplies of other states. Angel is sent to investigate rumors of a game-changing water source in Phoenix and, along the way, crosses paths with a hardened journalist named Lucy Monroe and a Texas migrant named Maria. Although they all have their own goals and agendas, they find themselves caught up as pawns in a game of greed that is bigger and more corrupt than they could ever have imagined.

A Simple Plan

by Scott Smith

A Simple Plan by Scott Smith

A Simple Plan by Scott Smith is a fast-paced thriller featuring a small-town guy named Hank. Hank, along with his brother Jacob and their friend, stumbles across the wreckage of a crashed plane. Although the pilot is dead, the group discovers that he has a duffle bag containing four million dollars in cash. Since nobody on the plane survived the crash, the group decides to take the money and agree to a simple plan. Unfortunately, greed means that the plan is quickly abandoned, and things begin to spiral out of control for everyone involved.

Last Man in Tower

by Aravind Adiga

Lat Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

Last Man in Tower is a 2011 novel by Aravind Adiga about real estate developer Dharmen Shah and retired schoolteacher, Masterji. Sha plans on adding a luxury building named the Shanghai to his empire in order to seal his legacy. Unfortunately, the site of his new high-rise is a once respectable but now crumbling apartment building where Masterji lives. Sha offers a generous buyout to Masterji, and his neighbors and everyone is delighted at their good fortune except for Masterji, who refuses the offer. Sha is a dangerous man to decline, and as the demolition deadline creeps closer, greed begins to turn neighbors and friends against each other.

Oil on Water

by Heon Habila

Oil on Water by Heon Habila

Oil on Water by Heon Habila is set in the oil-rich yet environmentally devastated Nigerian Delta. When the wife of a British oil executive is kidnapped, two journalists, Rufus and Zaq, are sent to find her. Rufus is still new to the business, while Zaq is a veteran who was once great but has since become disillusioned. Their journey takes them along a river in a canoe where they have front row seats to the devastation caused by the greed for oil. With danger looming from the military, militants, and faceless oil multinationals, Rufus and Zaq have to struggle for their own survival.